I've been having a good-natured disagreement with Heidi Miller about the concept of Fair Use. She had, in a recent podcast, a lawyer asserting that every second of every created piece, no matter what, required permission, and that "Fair Use" was "only" a defense, not a right. As a long-time media producer, this didn't ring true to me, and so I was pretty excited when the recent edition of On the Media addressed it. In fact, they led me to an entire comic book written by Duke Law Professors on the subject (much easier to grasp for those of us who are visual learners, and an exercise in Fair Use itself).
The whole thing is worth a read, but the part that I found most supportive came in the afterword:
"To be fair, in many-perhaps most-cases these demands for payment or clearance have nothing to do with copyright law as it stands. Instead, they are a manifestation of a "permissions culture" premised on the belief that copyright gives its owners the right to demand payment for every type of useage, no matter its length, or its purpose, or the context in which it is set. But that is not, and never has been the law."
They also specifically include podcasting in their overview of why Fair Use is essential to the continuing documentation of our culture.
As an artist, I tend to be pretty free with my work, as long as I'm credited--I do not expect to get rich from my art, I simply want the freedom to continue to make it. Fair Use, I argue, is, in fact, a right--not a weaselish way to get out of paying for money. It's also a requirement, I feel, to hold people accountable for the things they say--if I do not have the ability to let you hear the latest lie from [Right Wing Pundit] in my effort to disprove it, then it severely diminishes free speech in general.